July 19, 2024
5 Things Every Traveler Should Know In 2024 According To Department Of Transportation

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Is there anything exciting about the U.S. government? All the election talk is already getting old…

Digging deeper beyond the chase for the White House, travelers really only perk up for new passports and obtaining necessary visas for their exciting upcoming trips.

Everything else government-related can be a real bore. I mean, have you been to the DMV?

Plane wing over vast green landscapes

However, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is trying to change that by dropping some knowledge bombs many travelers may not know about.

For instance, ever had a flight canceled? Surely you have, and it’s quite possible that a particular airline tried to cover their tracks without informing you of your rights.

On May 31, 2024, DOT updated an informative dashboard to help travelers read up on their rights when traveling in the U.S.

Here are 5 things every traveler should know in 2024, according to the Department of Transportation:

So Long, Vouchers! Hello, Cash!

Female backpacker viewing airport departure boardFemale backpacker viewing airport departure board

Sometimes, the U.S. is seen as the leader of the world. Whether that’s true or not, you can’t argue against how behind the times America is in some cases.

Europe had a leg up for the longest time in treating airline passengers fairly when something goes awry.

As for the U.S., well, let’s just say they took the approach of “it’s out of our hands”. Until April 2024, U.S. travelers may receive a voucher for disruptions.

Now, travelers in the U.S. can expect cold hard cash for cancellations and these 2 scenarios for delays:

  • More than 3 hours for domestic flights
  • More than 6 hours for international flights
Female backpacker viewing airport departure boardFemale backpacker viewing airport departure board

So, what’s the catch?

You cannot accept a re-routed flight or other compensatory offers from the airline. Simple as that.

Try not to get into a tizzy when disruptions occur, and focus on doing the math to determine if it’s worth getting a full cash refund or to hop on the next flight.

No More Twiddling Your Thumbs On The Tarmac

I’ve been to 30 countries and I’m fortunate that tarmac delays have never happened to me. I cringe when reading the horror stories of sitting on a stuffy plane for hours on end with crying babies and recycled air.

Good news is DOT has put a stop to tarmac delays. Well, at least to a certain extent.

Stranded traveler eating Whataburger at airportStranded traveler eating Whataburger at airport

Flights cannot be left sitting on the tarmac (pre-takeoff or upon landing) longer than 3 hours for domestic flights. 

If this occurs, airlines must allow passengers to deplane and provide food, water, and medical attention (if necessary).

Overbooking Can Equal Cash

Planes overbook all the time. For better or worse, it’s just part of the industry.

Sometimes you luck out on ‘standby’ and score a seat from a no-show, and sometimes you may be involuntarily ‘bumped’ from your flight to no fault of your own.

Frustrated traveler at airportFrustrated traveler at airport

Keyword being “involuntarily”. If you’re one of those who accept to switch flights in exchange for money, this doesn’t apply.

A lot of factors go into this, but you very well may be entitled to compensation if an airline bumps you and causes you unnecessary travel delays to your next destination.

Depending on your ticket price, you can expect a full refund and then some. It’s best to view DOT’s official Bumping page to learn more.

Transparent Pricing: No More Hidden Junk Fees

Ever find a cheap flight online only to realize it’s not so cheap after all? Mexico is the king of this scheme with sneaky TUA fees, but the U.S. wasn’t far behind.

Female tourist with boarding pass at airportFemale tourist with boarding pass at airport

That all came to a halt in April 2024 with DOT requiring to disclose all fees upfront, such as airlines to baggage fees, seat selection fees, and change or cancellation fees.

Of course, budget airlines are the G.O.A.T. of the hidden fee game, but with leading low-cost carriers Frontier and Spirit changing course with their fee structure, you may not find yourself wide-eyed buying flights anymore regardless.

More Airlines Adapting To Family Seating Needs

Kids may still cry on planes, but it won’t be because they’re separated from their families.

While DOT has not implemented a new law for family seating per se, the agency has strongly encouraged airlines to be more accommodating.

Family with luggage at airportFamily with luggage at airport

These 4 U.S. airlines guarantee side-by-side seating for children 13 years and younger and an accompanying adult at no additional cost:

  • Alaska
  • American
  • Frontier
  • JetBlue

United does allow adjacent family seating for free, but it’s not guaranteed according to their website.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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